We’ve heard enough about the ‘Great Resignation,’ which has people quitting their jobs right and left as they search for something better in their careers.
Fortunately for Arizona, we now can shift the conversation to the ‘Great Opportunity.’
In Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address on Jan. 10, he called for empowering the state’s workforce with the skills of the future.
“Let’s invest in the worker, arming them with the skills they need for our growing semiconductor and advanced manufacturing industries,” he said. “Whether your top issue is workforce or rural jobs, this is the way to do it: Our budget makes historic investments into community colleges to empower our people with a quality education and the skills of the future.”
Through targeted investments, according to Ducey, the state can establish six advanced manufacturing training centers facilitated by community colleges in Arizona. Details are expected to be included in his budget proposal that was scheduled for release on Jan. 14.
I’m glad to hear him echo some of the Arizona Technology Council’s priorities for the 2022 session of the state Legislature published in our recently released Public Policy Guide. To create this annual document, our Public Policy Committee creates a list of principles in different subject areas and then establishes related positions to be used as the foundation of the council’s public policy efforts.
The positions this year can lead to creating opportunities for a workforce hungry for more. The governor’s challenge to the Legislature immediately brought to mind this priority:
• Support economic development programs that have proven to work for Arizona. Maintain and fund programs that support manufacturing; encourage research and development; support high-quality, high-paying jobs; and incentivize innovation. During the past several years, the council has been successful in helping extend and expand these programs. Some economic development tools may need to be modernized to ensure the most effective utilization of those that continue to spur economic growth.
Taking it further, we also offer priorities as they apply to preparing the foundation needed by the talented workforce that can help lead us into the future:
• Look for opportunities to cultivate a diverse, equitable and statewide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) ecosystem. The council will focus on long-term, shared, sustainable and flexible STEM missions that bridge, integrate and strengthen the learning opportunities offered by organizations across sectors instead of isolated, independent entities. This will result in the expansion of STEM business and education opportunities throughout rural and urban Arizona communities, fueling a strong, diverse talent pipeline prepared to meet the state’s anticipated growth.
• Consistently, equitably and sustainably fund the state’s P-20 education system, including pre-K, K-12, career and technical education district (CTED), postsecondary programs, and access to advanced, rigorous coursework such as advanced placement and dual-enrollment courses. This also includes supporting a funding formula that addresses the achievement gap for students in lower socioeconomic areas and ensures access to the proper infrastructure for supporting distance-learning models.
These priorities are just scratching the surface. The positions and principles were created to help elected officials and other stakeholders at all levels of government and business as they craft legislation and policies that will affect Arizonans and our economy for years to come.
To learn more, I invite you to download your own copy of the guide here.
In creating this document, our Public Policy Committee relied heavily on the council’s mission by preparing key ideas, goals and legislative initiatives to:
- Improve the business climate for technology-based companies.
- Provide sources of risk capital that encourage entrepreneurship, with a focus on minority entrepreneurship.
- Create an environment that supports science- and technology-related job retention and creation.
- Attract, train, retrain and retain the diverse talent required to compete in a global innovation economy.
- Support Arizona businesses in their journey to becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
- Help ensure technology companies not only recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic but thrive.
The governor’s words are encouraging to hear. For sure, I can’t wait to hear more. And I’m encouraged that the technology community can play a big part in this golden opportunity.
Steve Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.